Even as the winter session of the Vidhan Sabha is commencing on November 30, Speaker Brij Bihari Butail is yet to take a call on the fate of four independent legislators, whose membership had been challenged by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over a year ago.
BJP’s chief whip Suresh Bhardwaj had filed a petition against the four independent legislators – Karnesh Jung from Paonta Sahib, Manohar Dhiman from Gangath, Balbir Verma from Chopal and Pawan Kajal from Kangra seeking their disqualification.
Taking cognizance of the compliant, Butail had shot off notices to all four independent legislators, asking them to give clarification on the allegations against them.
Bhardwaj, who is also the legislator from Shimla, had maintained that all four were elected as independent legislators and could not support any party.
The independent legislators’ open support to chief minister Virbhadra Singh during the monsoon session last year had prompted the BJP to complain against them.
After the BJP had launched a tirade against the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government at the session, the four convened a press conference on the state assembly premises pledging their support to the chief minister.
The four MLAs had condemned the BJP for “targeting” Virbhadra in an “attempt to destabilise” the state government.
In the wake of a standoff between the ruling Congress party and the opposition BJP, the monsoon session was called off prematurely.
In the 68-member House, the Congress party has 36 MLAs, the BJP 27, the Himachal Lokhit Party one, while four MLAs are independents.
“Time and again we have requested the Speaker to take a decision at the earliest. I will again consult my lawyer on the issue,” Bhardwaj told HT.
When contacted, Speaker Butail said, “So far no decision has been taken because we are waiting for certain documents, while other documents are being verified. On reaching Shimla, I will study the papers and act accordingly.”
Earlier, the Speaker had said a decision in the matter would be taken after the monsoon session that finished on August 31.